On Saturday night, we drove to Hiroshima. We awoke to an absolutely perfect day on Sunday. Hiroshima is just as wonderful as I remember it. It is a modern-feeling city. The streets are unusually wide for Japan, and there are lots of greenspaces and boulevards. The people are friendly, and a large number of them speak English. All of these aspects are of course in part due to the fact that Hiroshima was completely obliterated during WWII by the first A-bomb ever dropped. Since then, the city has been completely rebuilt and has become a world-wide center for peace studies and rallies. We spent the whole day in and around the massive Peace Park. Simply put, the bomb was dropped above the park. The park contains structures still left standing after the bomb, as well as many statues dedicated to different groups of people, such as the children killed by the war, the mobilized schoolchildren and teachers killed, Koreans killed, etc. The park is moving, to say the least. It is not all pro-Japan, as one might expect. It simply speaks of the horrors caused by nuclear weapons, and it stands as a constant plea to destroy all nuclear weapons.
The A-bomb dome, as it is now referred to. The bomb was dropped above this building. Everyone inside it was instantly killed. It's amazing so much of the structure survived.
The plaque shows the building before the bomb. It was designed by a Czech man (close to home!) with a green dome. Jeff did some cool photo-work on this one!
This is Sadako's memorial. It is actually dedicated to all the children who died as a result of the A-bomb. You may know the story of 1,000 paper cranes... Sadako was a girl who developed leukemia as a result of the A-bomb. There is a belief in the luck that lies behind making 1,000 paper cranes. Sadako died before she completed her cranes, but her classmates completed them for her, and then pushed for a monument dedicated to all of the children of the bomb. As a result, the whole park is full of these paper cranes. Sadako's monument has glass cases behind it that are emptied daily. It's impressive, to say the least.
And here is a close-up of the cranes. We wondered what is done with all of these cranes. Well, apparently, Hiroshima has a paper crane museum, but even more cool is that they recycle these cranes into pens and notebooks that they sell and also donate to children in need all over the world.
This is a monument (much better when you're there)which shows the time at which the bomb was dropped, and time "stopped." 8:15am. In the museum, there are many watches on display that stopped working exactly at that time due to the bomb.
Finally, Jeff doesn't like that he didn't get this perfectly lined up... but whatever... It is taken through the cenotaph, where there is a big box that contains all of the names of people who died as a result of the A-bomb. It is opened every year when a commemorative event is held, and names are added, as there are still A-bomb related deaths, mainly due to a variety of cancers. At the far end of the picture is the A-bomb dome. In the middle is the commemorative flame, which will not be extinguished until every nuclear weapon on the earth is destroyed... which of course, will probably never happen.
You can probably see that we were deeply impacted by our visit to Hiroshima, me for a second time. It is hard not to be. The museum especially hits home very hard. It's an incredibly sombering and thoughtful experience.